The other day I had a conversation with a first grader who had some troubles in school. He had landed on “yellow” on the behavior chart for the day. When I asked why he ended up on yellow, he said, “I think my brain left me for a while.”
I thought about that for a minute, and having been a teacher for many years, thought I recognized that sentiment. I said to him, “Does that mean your teacher looked at you at some point in the day and asked you if you had lost your mind?”
“She only said that to me once,” he responded. We continued to discuss the situation and I asked him those questions that teachers and parents so often say: Were you doing the right thing? Did you know the right thing? If you knew the right thing, why didn’t you do the right thing? I ended the conversation by telling him he needs to make better choices – to slow down and think about what the right thing is and do it.
Fast-forward to this morning. I was spending some time in prayer on my way to meet a friend who was riding with me to a doctor appointment. As God and I were in our conversation, I was praying for some folks in my world who are making really bad choices. I said to God, “Don’t they know better?” And suddenly that whole conversation came back to me in a new context…
Picture God watching from Heaven – shaking his head – “Doesn’t she know better than to eat all those things that are bad for her? Doesn’t she know she’ll feel better if she does the right thing?” or this – “Why is he looking at that? Doesn’t he know it is going to ruin his marriage?” or this -- “Why is she lying to everyone around her? Doesn’t she know I know the truth and eventually others will find out too?” -- or this – “Why are they going to church on Sunday and pretending I don’t exist the rest of the time? Don’t they know their influence the rest of the week is more important than a few hours on Sunday?
Those are the things that flashed through my mind. It was as if God was reminding me that we are not any different than the 6-year-old. . . .We know what to do and what not to do. Why don’t we just do the right thing if we know the right thing? Don’t you know that God sits in Heaven on his throne shaking his head and whispering to our hearts, “Have you lost your mind?” It seems so easy to say to the children in our lives, “If you know the right thing, then do the right thing.” What we need to do is look in the mirror and say the same thing to ourselves.
My eyes filled with tears of repentance and grief. I’ve made my earthly father cry with my bad decisions, and it broke my heart. Can you imagine how God feels looking down on us each day with tears in his eyes and grief in his heart as He watches us make poor choices? One sin as bad as the next – not living out our Christianity Monday through Friday just as serious as having sex with the wrong person or at the wrong time. White lies just as serious as murder. And He sees and knows it all.
We blame. We make excuses. We say it’s too hard. We do all the things the 6-year-old does while we stand piously asking him why he doesn’t do better if he knows better. And God sits up in Heaven asking us exactly the same thing.